Wayne Shorter (139489)

Wayne Shorter is an accomplished composer and superb saxophonist always in transition. Many of his compositions, such as “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum,” “Infant Eyes” and “E.S.P.,” have become jazz standards.

He plays everything from hard bop to fusion, with modal measures in between. The native of Newark, N.J., made an early impression on Horace Silver (1950s) before joining Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, where he became the group’s music director.

At 81 years of age, Shorter remains one of the music’s most transformative players. In recognition of his many accomplishments, Jazz at Lincoln Center (60th Street and Broadway) will present the Wayne Shorter Festival. May 14 to 16, Shorter will join the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in celebration of his definitive compositions that have made him a jazz architect who continues to expand his musical real estate.

During these concerts (one show each night at 8 p.m. in Frederick P. Rose Hall), Shorter and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will revisit the beautiful melodies that have not been performed in more than 50 years ago, as well as some of Shorter’s most masterful material, including “Lost” and “Endangered Species.”

After leaving Art Blakey, Shorter joined Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet in 1964 (Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams). During his stint with Davis, he began playing soprano saxophone exclusively in 1969. After Davis, he formed the jazz fusion band Weather Report with keyboardist Joe Zawinul. The original members were bassist Miroslav Vitous, percussionist Airto Moreira, drummer Alphonse Mouzon and, later, bassist Jaco Pastorius. Weather Report developed a diverse style of music that led them through funk, hard bop, Latin jazz and world music.

The nine-time Grammy Award winner’s broad spectrum of artistry has resulted in collaborations with artists from Joni Mitchell to Milton Nascimento. The NEA Jazz Master played on the title track of Steely Dan’s 1977 album “Aja.” He’s also on the soundtrack of the Harrison Ford film “The Fugitive” (1993). There will be a free pre-concert discussion nightly at 7 p.m.

May 15 to 16, the Wayne Shorter Festival will also feature prominent bandleaders in their own right, saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas, who will be performing with Sound Prints, their Shorter-inspired quintet, conceptualized after their shared time in the SFJAZZ Collective in 2008. They will be joined by pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Joey Baron. They will perform two shows each night at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in the Appel Room.

Sound Prints have formed an ensemble in direct collaboration with Shorter. This homage is a continuum of Shorter’s legacy as a vanguard of modern jazz, showcasing both a new repertoire and Shorter compositions. There will be free pre-concert discussion nightly at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

For tickets, call 212-721-6500 or visit www.jazz.org.

Recently, Jazz at Lincoln Center announced the 15 finalist bands that competed in the annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival, held in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall. This year marked the 20th anniversary of this national competition.

Held each May, the Ellington Competition is the culmination of the yearlong “Essentially Ellington” program, which distributes free music and supplemental resources to high school and college jazz ensembles throughout the U.S., Canada, and American schools abroad. The 2014-15 season included more than 3,200 member programs. Participating bands are invited to submit a recording, and 15 finalists are selected after a rigorous screening process.

Each finalist band receives an in-school workshop led by a professional musician before coming to New York to perform before Marsalis and a panel of judges.

In Manhattan, the finalist bands spent three days immersed in workshops, jam sessions, rehearsals and performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Some of the 2015 Essentially Ellington high school jazz band finalists included Agoura High School (Agoura Hills, Calif.), American Beloit Memorial High School (Beloit, Wis.), and Community Arts Program (Coral Gables, Fla.).

It seems the high schools from the tristate area didn’t make the cut, including Washington, D.C., which is known to have a few swinging bands. New York City still seems to have difficulty with their music programs. A “lack of funds” has been cited on various occasions, although Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts is one of the fortunate schools with an exceptional music program.

The Essentially Ellington Luncheon and conversation featured television reporter and producer Soledad O’Brien and Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center managing and artistic director. Their open discussion touched on Marsalis’ inspiration to launch Essentially Ellington 20 years ago and his vision for the program’s future.

Commenting on O’Brien’s question on why they chose the music of Ellington, Marsalis said, “He’s our major composer, the equivalent of Beethoven and Bach. He is the hallmark of great music. Playing Duke’s music makes you a better player and a student of history.”

After the luncheon, Marsalis and the JALCO moved to Rose Hall, where they performed and entertained questions from the young musicians. The vocalist Charenee Wade joined the JALCO for their arrangement of “St. Louis Blues.”

“On behalf of the Jazz at Lincoln Center board and staff, congratulations to this year’s finalist bands,” said Todd Stoll, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s vice president of education. “Our annual May event is much more ‘celebration’ than ‘competition,’ particularly during this landmark 20th anniversary year. The combination of the greatest American composers and arrangers with some of our most committed and talented young people and their educators is a triumph for our culture.”